Knowing When to Do Wrong: An Exploration of the Relationship Between Threat to a Leader and Violations of Physical Integrity Rights

Haley Huett

Name: Haley Huett
Major: Political Science
Minor: Religious Studies
Advisors: Kent Kille, William Kujala

Political leaders are sensitive to threat. Scholarship in the field of political leadership has established that leaders act to minimize threats to themselves and their position as a leader. This study explores the relationship between threat and human rights response. Asking, “does the type of threat to a leader’s position influence the level of physical integrity rights violations?” This study explores whether the origin of the threat, being from the population (popular) or from institutions within the state (institutional), impacts the level of arbitrary arrest, torture, disappearances, and extrajudicial killings perpetuated by the government. Hypothesizing that institutional threats will result in greater levels of physical integrity violations than popular threats, this study conducts a comparative, longitudinal analysis of Algeria and Angola. The case study first engages in a systematic approach of both countries, determining whether threat was present. The study then establishes whether the threat was institutional and/or popular before exploring physical integrity violations. Some support was found for the second hypothesis (H2), suggesting that popular threat may influence a leader’s physical integrity response, but did not determine the severity of the response. Results related to the first hypothesis (H1) are inconclusive. Finding that the presence of threat, regardless of type, increases physical integrity response, this study offers suggestions for further research to fully examine the role of threat on human rights abuses.


Posted in Comments Enabled, Independent Study, Symposium 2023 on April 13, 2023.

6 responses to “Knowing When to Do Wrong: An Exploration of the Relationship Between Threat to a Leader and Violations of Physical Integrity Rights”

  1. J says:

    Interesting topic and clear presentation! Brilliant!

  2. Prof. Claire Eager says:

    This is such an important topic, Haley. Were there other cases you considered, or additional possible variables for future study?

  3. Matt Krain says:

    Congratulations, Haley! I’ll be sure to stop by the poster session today to learn more.

  4. Haley Huett says:

    Hi Professor Eager! For future study, I recommend that other areas be explored to further isolate the relationship between threat and human rights abuses. For example, I looked at two countries in Africa. Would Latin America produce different results? I also think that future studies should examine the influence of threat on different type of human rights, such as political and cultural rights. As for other cases, I selected Algeria and Angola through the process outlined in my methodology, but all autocracies composed my population that I samples from. Thank you for your question!

  5. Prof. Claire Eager says:

    That’s great to know; thank you! Also, on a separate note, the article in the Voice on murder ballads was nice to read–my household loves the ones from Britain. Congratulations on all of this hard and successful work!

  6. Lily Barnett says:

    Beautiful work. I love how successfully you presented your findings and I can’t wait to see all of the amazing things you’ll do after graduation. You should be so proud of yourself!!

Related Posts

Alix Printup '23

I.S. research explores psychology’s approach to historical trauma within Indigenous community

Audrey Klosterman '23

Theatre student examines and executes stage adaptation

Zoe Seymour '23

‘Overlooked Adoptees’ I.S. research earns Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Award at the Senior Research Symposium

Related Areas of Study

Religious Studies

An interdisciplinary, academic approach to the study of religion that includes history, art, theology, and more.

Major Minor

Political Science

The study of power, with concentrations in U.S. politics, international relations, political theory and comparative politics.

Major Minor

Connect with Wooster